Theoretical Girls
U.S. Millie / You Got Me



by Borracho USER (14 Reviews)
March 20th, 2023 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No Wave - III

Sprung up as the brain-child of Jeff Lohn and one Glenn Branca, Theoretical Girls briefly overtook the SoHo gutter scene, turning punk into dissonance, guitars into shoddy power tools, and art into an ugly heave. A toss-off idea that launched a singular shift, Theoretical Girls brought no wave into the world, and for the briefest of instants, coated the sound of the underground in minimalist clatter.

Despite all evidence and claims pointing to Theoretical Girls as the progenitor of no wave as a conceptual force, “US Millie,” the A-side of their only official release, splits them from the unkeyed fold of DNA and Mars, and plies closer to the early era of The Fall that was gestating across the Atlantic around the same time. The skipping rhythm of campy synths lends the song an almost-baroque tonality, as a list of bromidic cultural grievances are rattled off with paranoiac intensity. Texaco, Scientology, East Germany, Jews for Jesus and a slew of others get a mention, the histrionic chanting turning Millie into “We Didn’t Start the Fire” on methamphetamines.

Latter-day retrospectives reveal Lohn, a New York artist and composer, as the primary push behind the band’s more traditional affectations, with Branca’s contributions sticking much closer to no wave’s frenetic tendencies. On B-Side “You Got Me,” he lets loose the buzz-saws. Grinding, metallic and feverishly stubborn, “You Got Me” functions as Millie’s evil twin. It only gets louder and more manic as it goes on.

It is Branca of course, who’s front and center here. His reputation and reach was already far wider than most of no wave’s garrisons, and so the band were the only ones from the movement that managed to leave Lower Manhattan for a string of shows in Paris. The prodigious mastermind had already come to New York a seasoned visionary and his colossal aim is evident even from the band’s scrappy starting point. Once the entirety of Theoretical Girls’ material finally saw the light of day, it all retroactively crystallized – Lohn was playing with sound, finding new and interesting frequencies and approaches, yes. But Branca was already shaping monsters. Mere months after Theoretical Girls dissolved, his experiments coalesced into a perfect synthesis of harmonics, resonance and feedback. The Ascension would shape noise music for decades to come.

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user ratings (5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 20th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0


March 20th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

for the four people following this series. should I do Pere ubu’s data panik next or maybe something like The Work?

EDIT: never mind!

March 21st 2023


Hecklespuck, you've done the 'Girls and you've done 'em justice. Can't say I've heard "You Got Me", necessarily, but I do love me some s/t record. So gotta check asap

March 21st 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

Oh Yeah, Borracho with another great EP.

I do not know The Work, so review that and I'll check.

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